A picture of a polar bear sleeping in the snow.

Polar Bear

Polar bears mainly live in a frozen environment on land close to the North Pole. They have completely adapted to the freezing cold environment. As the picture shows, for a polar bear taking a nap in the snow, in freezing temperatures is a perfectly normal thing to do.

A picture of a polar bear sleeping in the snow.

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) sleeping in the snow in the Toronto Zoo.

While other bears sleep through the winter for polar bears it is the busiest season to go hunting for food — can being a polar bear be an adaptation to take advantage of winter when the competition is not that active?
Polar bears mainly eat seals in the wild, and even through their prey is plentiful, increasingly warmer temperatures reduce the ice that they need to allow them to get close to their prey and hunt, causing polar bears to starve.

When polar bears cannot get adequate food supply from the sea they will try to eat whatever they find, and go inside human settlements, dig up garbage for edible scraps. Polar bears will also consider humans as potential prey.

Polar bears are more lucky than some other big predators such as tigers because unlike the latter, most wild polar bears live in countries, such as the USA and Canada, where people will go into extraordinary length to protect them.

Polar bears in the Toronto Zoo.

Polar bears are considered to be a separate species from the brown bear/grizzly bear, but they interbreed in captivity and in the wild. It has always been the case. In recent years as temperatures started to rise the range of the grizzly and the range of the polar bear increasingly overlap, thus cross breeding is becoming more common. Interestingly such offspring is fertile and can further breed with members of the parent species.

Polar bear.

Polar bear in the Toronto Zoo.
It is May already and the polar bears are still sleeping all day.

Once again — just like with tigers of mixed subspecies — we humans try to judge other creatures. Hybrid bears are not given the same protection under the law as pure bred grizzlies and polar bears, and it is usually legal to hunt them even where the pure bred bears are protected by law. But do we have proof undeniable that mixed bears are not well suited for the conditions in the future when we don’t even know how that future is going to look like.

Polar bear sitting next to water.

Finally I have manged to find a polar bear that was awake in the Toronto Zoo.
This picture was taken on 29/November/2014. The cold but not too cold weather seems to encourage some activity.

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Last updated: December 22, 2014

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